Welcome to Silent Hill (spending time in Shizuoka city)
While not a direct translation, the kanji that make up Shizuoka’s name, 静岡 can roughly be translated to quiet hills, or as I like to call it, Silent Hill ^_^. While you won’t find hellish landscapes appearing at the sound of an air raid siren ever few hours, or demons trying to eat your soul (aside from a Desecration Demon at GP Shizuoka), you should be able to find a variety of things to do while near the city. I used to live in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka for 4 years, and I have visited Shizuoka more than a dozen times. It’s home to the Abe River fireworks in the summer time, the ruins of Sunpu , as well as the Bandai factory where they make everything Gundam (and recently had the giant Gundam statue. I believe it’s back in Tokyo now). It’s been a while since I’ve visited the city, and many things have probably changed since I last visited, but I will do my best to help my readers navigate the city.
Shizuoka Station will be the first thing you see when you arrive in Shizuoka. The city of about 750,000 people is a stop on the both the Kodama and Hikari shinkansen (bullet train) routes coming from Nagoya and Tokyo, and it also has a private, Shiztetsu line that starts from Shin Shizuoka station and goes all the way to Shin Shimizu station about 11 km away. Kasugacho station is the closest station to Twin Messe Shizuoka, where GP Shizuoka will be taking place, but you should be able to walk the distance to the event hall from Shizouka station as well if you get there early (I’d say its around a 30 minute walk from Shizuoka station. Use the map on the GP Shizuoka Event page!)
Walking around town
If you get into town on Friday or have extra time on Saturday or Sunday night after the GP, there are a few places you can go. If you’re looking for food and shopping, there are a variety of places you can go. Most restaurants at Shizuoka station will be open until about 9 or 10 pm, but if you don’t mind a walk, you can go to where all the night life is north of the station. Shizuoka station is connected to the Parche department store (which you’re free to check out if you have time. It’s full of different types of stores, but mostly for women), and this is also where you’ll find the north exit, with stairs leading down underneath the taxi/bus terminal. Once there, there will be 4 exits available to you. You’ll want to head in the northwest direction towards Shizuoka Parco (ask for that building if you’re not sure and somebody should point you in the right direction).
Shizuoka Parco is a nice department store to check out, but if you’re looking for bars, restaurants, and other night life, go past Parco until you reach the end of the underground path. When you reach the stairs at the end, you should come up on street level just before the main road. On this main road, take a left and you should find the main night life area of Shizuoka. There are bars, restaurants, and one of my favorite stores in Japan, Don Quixote. Don Quixote is sort of a supermarket aimed at young people. You can get your hygiene products, clothes, brand goods, video games, electronics, and much more at this store. They are usually open late, so if you’re looking for something to do at night, I definitely recommend checking this out.
If you’re looking for other interesting things to do, and are a fan of Gundam, I would also recommend checking out the Bandai Hobby center in Higashi Shizuoka, not too far away from Shizuoka station. If you’re a fan of beer and have a few extra hours to spend this weekend in Shizuoka, I 100% recommend going to the Baird Brewery Numazu tap room. Baird Beer is the best beer I have tasted in Japan. They sell their beer all over Japan, but their taprooms are few and far between. The one in Numazu is the original one. You can try various Japanese flavors such as Suruga Bay Imperial IPA, Rising Sun Pale Ale, and Numazu Lager. Numazu station is about 1 hour from Shizuoka city by local train though, so give yourself enough time to get back and forth and check train times so you don’t miss the chance to make it back to Shizuoka in time.
If you’re looking to travel around the area, Atami is a hot springs town on the way to Tokyo, Hakone isn’t too far away (and also a great hot springs town), and even Yokohama and Tokyo are easily accessible from Shizuoka. If you need help getting from station to station, I recommend using Jorudan to find the correct train times.
Shizuoka isn’t really a big place for Magic. There is only one store in the area, Card Labo. It’s less than a 10 minute walk from Shin Shizuoka station, but I seriously doubt they’ll have the inventory if you’re looking to buy cards while in the city. If you’re missing cards, your best bet is going to be buying them through the vendors at GP Shizuoka. I recommend TokyoMTG.com, but feel free to shop around while you’re there for the best price.
I’m sorry I can’t give my readers more information about Shizuoka City, but it’s been a while since I’ve been there. Hopefully the city hasn’t changed too much since I last visited it, and I hope that my suggestions and directions still hold true. If there is any other information you’d like to know about the city, I’d be happy to find out for you through my contacts there.
For those of you looking for places to get cash, you can do so at some convenience stores like 7-11, and Japan Post Office ATMs also let people with foreign ATM cards get money out of their cash machines. Well, that’s it for me until after Grand Prix Shizuoka! Be sure to follow my progress on Twitter (@yoschwenky), as well as Wizards of the Coast’s and TokyoMTG’s coverage. If there is anything you’d like to know first hand about the event, please tweet to me and in between rounds I’ll do my best to answer your question. Thanks for reading and check back on Monday for a full tournament report!